UPDATED: Dive team locates second crash victim; sheriff apologizes for chief's outburst; lost K-9 located; more state newsWisconsin News
Members of the St. Croix EMS dive team have recovered the body of a second man killed in a semi crash early Tuesday. Also, OSHA investigators have begun a probe into a fire at at Tomahawk-area packaging firm that injured a man Tuesday and where five people have died since 2008. Also stories about rhubarb between Gov. Scott Walker and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, a lost police dog and lots of eggs.
MENOMONIE -- Members of the St. Croix EMS & Rescue's dive team were able to recover the body of Mohammed O. Malin early Wednesday afternoon, and eastbound lanes of I-94 over the Red Cedar River have been reopened, the State Patrol reported mid-afternoon.
The State Patrol said Wednesday the truck was owned by Dashman’s Transport LLC of Lansing, Mich.
The driver, Batrodin A. Siyad of Minneapolis, Minn. was found dead in the cab of the tractor. Malin, a co-driver, was also from Minneapolis.
The Star-Tribune reported Wednesday that Siyad began working for Dashman’s about two weeks ago -- a year after earning his commercial driver's license.
He was close friends with Malin and joined the company so the two could drive together.
Siyad emigrated from Kenya six years ago and lived in south Minneapolis.
The pair were returning to the Twin Cities from Ohio when the crash occurred, the newspaper reported.
The Patrol said roads were snow-covered at 3:48 a.m. when the westbound tractor-trailer rig entered the median just east of the river crossing and slid down the embankment into the water.
The crash closed westbound I-94 for about five hours as the Menomonie Fire Department, Menomonie police and dive team members worked to recover bodies and remove the wreckage from the river.
Crews from Jerry's Inc. led the salvage operation of the tractor and trailer rig.
Meanwhile, the same snowstorm that dumped up to nine inches in western Wisconsin is heading toward Washington D.C. and the federal government has already said its offices would be closed there Wednesday.
Hundreds of flights are canceled at the nation’s capital. That’s after Chicago’s two airports had 1,100 flights canceled Tuesday, affecting many Wisconsin travelers.
In Dodge County, Highway 33 was closed for a few hours near Horicon after a semi-truck crashed. The driver had non-life-threatening injuries. A State Patrol squad car overturned while responding to a call between Menomonie and Elk Mound Tuesday morning but the officer didn't suffer serious injuries.
The storm departed Wisconsin last night. West central and far southern areas were the hardest hit. Nine inches fell at Durand and Independence. Almost nine fell at Janesville while Beloit had eight inches. Madison and Kenosha got almost 6.5 inches. Wednesday is expected to be dry for the most part, with highs close to 30.
Ryan again urges Medicare transition to cheaper voucher program
House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Janesville will try for a third straight year to turn Medicare into a cheaper voucher program.
Ryan, a Republican, is expected to release his federal budget plan next week for fiscal 2014 and the Associated Press says it would only let those age 56 and older continue the present tax-paid fee-for-service Medicare – not those 55 and older as Ryan touted over the past two years.
His new plan would again force most people to use tax-funded vouchers to buy private insurance when they turn 65 – a cheaper option which many fear would not be enough for the coverage they’ll need.
Ryan insists that his cost reductions are needed to keep Medicare from going bankrupt as the large Baby Boom generation latches onto the program. Ryan’s spokesman, William Allison, would not comment on the possible age change but said the proposal would not change anything for those in retirement or close to it and Ryan’s plan is “in sharp contrast to the real harm inflicted on seniors by the president’s health care law.”
Democrats say Ryan’s Medicare plan balances the budget on the backs of senior citizens while keep taxes down for the wealthy.
President Obama has not submitted a federal budget proposal for 2014 yet. The White House normally releases it in early February.
Milwaukee Co. sheriff apologizes for chief's outburst toward senator
MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has written a letter of apology to U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham for the way the city’s police chief spoke to the senator last week.
Clarke said he was apologizing on behalf of his constituents after Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn talked over the South Carolina Republican at a Senate hearing.
Flynn testified in support of the proposed ban on assault weapons and other firearms restrictions. Clarke has vocally opposed gun control and urged people to learn how to use guns and protect themselves.
Chief Flynn interrupted the senator while he was questioning another witnesses, and the two talked over each other several times.
Clarke said he has a forceful personality, but he told Sen. Graham he would “not even dream of coming up to Capitol Hill to disrespect and shout down a member of Congress.”
Flynn said the gun measures would reduce street crime, but the sheriff said the chief’s real motive is gun control. Flynn said his testimony reflected the view of the nation’s leading police chiefs. The chief called Clarke’s comments entertaining but not relevant to a serious discussion of the issues.
OSHA investigating latest injury at Tomahawk area plant where five have died
Federal officials are investigating an accident at a corrugated packaging plant near Tomahawk where five people were killed in a pair of other mishaps in the last five years.
Lincoln County sheriff’s deputies said a worker was severely burned Tuesday at the Packaging Corporation of America. The victim was first taken to a local hospital before being flown to UW Hospital in Madison. There was no immediate word on the worker’s condition, and officials have not said how the accident occurred.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it has launched an investigation into Tuesday's incident, and it could take up to six months to complete its probe. Two contractors from Ontonagon, Mich. died from burns suffered at the PCA Tomahawk plant last July.
Three workers were killed in 2008 when sparks ignited a storage tank with flammable gas.
Supreme Court candidates appearing today
MADISON -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court election is 27 days away, and the two candidates will appear together at a meeting of the Madison Rotary Club Wednesday.
Incumbent Pat Roggensack and Marquette law professor Ed Fallone survived a primary contest last month. Roggensack is running on her experience of almost two decades as a judge, including her one 10-year Supreme Court term.
Fallone says the current court is dysfunctional, and he wants to bring more civility. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has obtained a letter of apology that Roggensack wanted all the justices to sign and release last fall, but they didn’t.
Her proposed letter was meant for the court as a whole to apologize to Wisconsinites for the 2011 physical altercation between Justices David Prosser and Ann Walsh Bradley.
The letter called the incident “inappropriate” and said the court would not repeat what she called “extraordinary conduct.” It did not recommend sanctions against anyone.
Roggensack said it would have improved the public’s confidence in the state’s highest court, but Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson issued a critical response, calling the letter “instantly divisive.”
Despite Milwaukee mayor's comments, Walker says he has no beef with Barrett
MILWAUKEE -- Gov. Scott Walker says he loves Milwaukee, and he has no beef with Mayor Tom Barrett.
The mayor fired back Tuesday at recent criticisms from Walker and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. They told city officials to stop blaming others for the city’s fiscal plight, get to work on improving the economy and make city government more efficient.
Walker attended the annual meeting of “Visit Milwaukee” Tuesday and said the city’s taxpayers are better off with him as governor. Walker said Barrett’s comments might pertain to other politicians but not him.
Walker cited a number of state and city partnerships under his watch. They include new ramps on and off the Hoan Bridge, plans to rebuild the Zoo freeway interchange, efforts to grow the Milwaukee Water Council, and a new state office building just west of the city’s downtown.
Barrett said Tuesday he wasn’t sure if state Republicans would give Milwaukee a fair shake in the new state budget.
Walker said he talked with Barrett about city concerns before he released his budget proposal. The governor said he heard the mayor out, and he agreed with some of Barrett’s concerns but not others.
Egg production up 7 percent statewide
MADISON -- Wisconsin hens made seven percent more eggs last year.
New figures show that Wisconsin hens put out 1.4 billion eggs during the year ending Nov. 30. That’s up from 1.3 billion the previous year. Officials credit an increase in egg-laying hens.
The Badger State had 6.5 percent more hens on the job in 2012, for a total of just under five million. Each hen laid an average of 277 eggs, a couple more than the year before.
Wisconsin is 18th among the 50 states in total egg production. That’s unchanged from the previous year. Neighboring Iowa is first, by far, with production estimated at 14.5 billion eggs in the most recent reporting year.
Democratic aide tells Capitol police she feared for her safety
MADISON -- An aide to state Rep. Brett Hulsey (D-Middleton) recently told Capitol police that she feared for her safety after he brought a box cutter to the office and pressured her to get self-defense training with him.
The Journal Sentinel said the Madison Democrat also considered bringing a gun to the Capitol even though he does not have a state concealed weapons permit. An officer said the woman’s claim needs to be investigated, and that’s apparently where it sits.
Hulsey admitted the claims and said he had no intention to hurt his aide. He said he just wanted to make a point about Republican security measures that he’s against – like carrying concealed guns in the Assembly chamber.
Hulsey said he wanted to bring a muzzle-loading rifle to the Assembly floor to prove his point but was told that he couldn’t. And he said that if lawmakers and their aides are expected to defend themselves, self-defense training should be provided.
Capitol Police Chief David Erwin recently urged staffers to punch aggressive protestors if they feel threatened. Hulsey said he wanted to take what he called an irrational policy to “its logical conclusion.”
The aide is on vacation. She’ll be assigned to a different Assembly office when she returns.
Three in custody following shots fired on UW campus
MADISON -- Three people are in custody after UW-Madison police were told that shots were fired on the far west end of the campus.
The Dane County 9-1-1 center received a call just before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, saying that up to five shots were fired in the Eagle Heights-University Houses area and a vehicle was leaving the scene. It’s where a number of faculty, staff and graduate students live.
No injuries were reported. Police said two people were taken into custody soon after the call. A third person was brought in almost two hours later. None of them were said to be affiliated with the UW.
The university sent out a number of alerts about the situation to around 20,000 campus subscribers. An all-clear was issued around midnight.
Eau Claire man pleads insanity to crowbar killing
EAU CLAIRE -- An Eau Claire man has pleaded insanity to a charge that he killed another man with a crowbar last June.
A public defender for James Olson, 52, entered pleas of innocent and innocent by reason of mental disease Tuesday.
A judge appointed a psychologist to determine if Olson can help prepare a defense for a possible trial. The findings of that exam will be reviewed at a hearing on April 18.
Olson is charged with first-degree intentional homicide.
Prosecutors said he killed Paul Oberle, 39, with a crowbar after the victim returned home from his job on the overnight shift at a grocery store. His father found Oberle’s body in his yard.
Sussex woman killed in a freeway accident
MILWAUKEE -- A woman killed on a Milwaukee area freeway was identified yesterday as Denise Merkel, 54, of Sussex.
Waukesha County authorities said her vehicle got stuck, and she left it on a shoulder of I-43 near New Berlin last Saturday morning. She was walking across the freeway when she was hit by another vehicle. She died at the scene.
The incident remains under investigation.
Wood County K-9 found after 37 hours on the lam
Toro is just fine, and his boss says he’ll go back to work on Friday.
Toro is the Wood County Sheriff’s Department’s K-9 o who went missing for 37 hours in a wooded area near Plover before Deputy Doug Christianson found him Tuesday.
Sheriff Thomas Reichert said the four-year-old dog had a small cut to one of his paws, but otherwise he’s in fine health. He was found gnawing on a deer carcass about a half-mile from where he disappeared on Sunday night.
The K-9 was sniffing out a vehicle and found drug evidence. His handler, deputy Joe Zurfluh, was rewarding Toro when he ran off. Zurfluh and Reichert said Toro might have seen another animal which may have spurred him to run away.
The sheriff says he’s looking into the possibility of a GPS tracking device for Toro to make sure he doesn’t get lost again. He has a chip implanted so pet specialists with scanners can identify him.
-- Mike Warren, WDLB, Marshfield